3 Main Themes Emerge From Green Bay Packers 2011 NFL Draft

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The 2011 NFL draft is now officially over, and its time to take a look at what the Packers did.  Over the next couple of weeks, fans and analysts alike will sit in front of their computers and grade each team’s draft class; in my opinion this is completely absurd for two reasons.

For one, these players haven’t played a single snap in the NFL yet and no one knows exactly how these players are going to pan out; if anyone did the draft would be a pretty boring affair.

And second, the inherent flaw in grading is that it’s based on a big board typically made by an analyst or the fans themselves.  There are only a few people privy to the actual boards of the 32 teams, and I’m willing to bet that none of the boards you see online are even remotely close to the real things.

Nevertheless, one fact that must be true is that every team drafts with a logical purpose; whether drafting purely on talent, athleticism, speed, need or value, it would be simply foolish for a team to draft a player without an idea of what to do with him and how that player fits into the team.  With that in mind, in the following article I hope to analyze what the Packers were thinking when they drafted each player.

Overall Impressions:

  1. The retooling of the defense is basically complete: Teams set a tone with the players they draft and this year it was all about giving Aaron Rodgers more help.  Many people have forgotten that the Packers are only two years removed from completely changing their defensive scheme from a 4-3 bump and run scheme under Bob Sanders to a 3-4 zone blitz scheme under Dom Capers.The 2009 and 2010 drafts were very defensive heavy, with BJ Raji and Clay Matthews III being drafted in the 1st round in 2009 and Mike Neal and Morgan Burnett being taken in the 2nd and 3rd round in 2010.  This was simply based on the fact that many of the players acquired pre-2009 weren’t ideal for a 3-4 defense (such as DE/OLB Aaron Kampman).  In comparison, the 2011 draft was definitely an offensive draft, with the first 3 picks on the offense and 4 offensive skill positions being addressed overall.
  2. Each pick replaces a player: One of the first things that should be considered is that every draft pick usually steals a roster spot from another player.  This draft is no different with every pick having a pretty clear player targeted.  Thompson has used his picks to either draft replacements for players who are likely to retire or leave the team via free agency or to increase the depth behind definite starters.
  3. Outside Linebacker was apparently not that important: Most people were expecting the Packers to take a shot at a premier pass rusher in the early rounds, with Brooks Reed, Justin Houston and Akeem Ayers being mentioned as high as the 32nd overall pick.  The Packers felt otherwise apparently, as their only pick at outside linebacker was probably Ricky Elmore in the 6th round.  It would appear if the Packers were content to see what results between the 4-way battle of Brad Jones, Frank Zombo, Erik Walden and Ricky Elmore; hopefully one becomes the next James Harrison.

Tomorrow, I’ll delve deeper into each draft choice and the rationale for each selection.



Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.


24 thoughts on “3 Main Themes Emerge From Green Bay Packers 2011 NFL Draft

  1. Jersey Al, this doesn’t have much to do with the column written above, but in your opinion, do you feel that the Steelers stole some of the Packer’s targets?? I really wanted Chris Carter late in the draft and the Steelers took him one pick before us. The same can be said for Curtis Brown and the kid from the Citadel. All of those guys were MY targets at the time….do you think that’s the case??

    Also: If Greg Little and Randall Cobb are both there in the 2nd round, who do you think the Packers would have taken?? I know this is all guessing, but wondered if you had any inside information or rumors you had heard about this stuff.

    1. yes I do believe the Steelers plucked some guys the Packers wanted. I believe FireMM was the first to bring this up on a comment on a previous post. Once their guy was gone, they felt they could trade down, still get one of the next guys on their list, and move up in a later round, where ther was still some very good value.

      As for Cobb / Little, I was told that Cobb was the Packers’ guy from the beginning. If he was gone, you might have seen another slight trade down into the 3rd and they would have taken Jernigan instead.

    2. I agree wholeheartedly when you say…”I’m willing to bet that none of the boards you see online are even remotely close to the real things”.
      How many ANALysts and fans know Davon House has a medical issue with his big toes that are turned somewhat inward and curled somewhat upward. At a position of constant pivoting, that problem can’t be taken lightly. (posted T-Silver @ JS Online). Most of us know squadouche and many know even less.

    3. My assumption is that they would have picked Cobb; my reasoning is that the Packers don’t seem to like dealing with diva wide receivers (well any as much as any wide receiver is a diva). Little was labeled as a diva who liked the attention to be on him, which isn’t really a team-first mentality

  2. Wondering your thoughts on Dom Capers’ thoughts of HIS defense. Everybody says you need to rush-backers to make it work. Doesn’t Dome just need talented players? Isn’t he using Woodson like a backer? Are we blinded into thinking we “need” this position filled when D. House may have been the guy to allow for Woodson (or Tramon or Shields) to blitz even more?

    1. There’s plenty of truth to that Lucas. Capers is more concerned about that other player being solid in all phases of the game rather than just a pure pass rusher. Capers will find multiple ways generate pressure on opposing QBs.

      1. That’s true,however,I believe most coordinators would rather not do that too often because it leaves them vulnerable.Gambling has that destructive nature.

        1. I don’t think it’s gambling to have a more talented player (with heart-thank you Mr. Greene). Dom is capable of utilizing talent or position (OLB). Of course the ideal is all 11 having extreme talent.

    2. Well, one other thing that a strong pass rusher opposite Clay Matthews brings is that two strong edge rushers force the offense to look at them first, take for example Lamar Woodley and James Harrison of the Steelers. For most offense, priority 1 and 1a are to figure out what the steelers OLBs are up to, which makes the exotic cornerback or safety blitz all the more effective.

  3. Everyone seems to think we have to have another pass rusher. How did our defense finish #2 in sacks if we don’t have them on our team? I think you will find a decent (maybe not great) pass rusher from amongst Zombo, Walden, Jones, and Elmore (who is very intriguing).

  4. Here’s where I disagree. I think TT went O b/c that’s the way the board fell to him. Reports have it if C. Jordan would have fallen one more spot TT would have traded up to get him. And once most of the D players he targeted in the 2nd round went early TT thought they could get Cobb who they had as the 3rd best WR in the draft.

    The draft is a living, breathing thing and a good drafter (TT) has to be open to that. I think it the draft could have turned out completely different (heavy D) and it would have also made complete sense. It’s just we would have heard D wins championships. Notice we didn’t hear that mantra at any time this weekend.

    TT drafted for value, period.

    1. What/who exactly are you disagreeing with? I don’t think the posts here claim TT drafted for offense or neglected defense. I agree with the rest of your comments; I’m just not sure what you meant by the disagree comment.

      1. Lucas, when I read the following it says to me the D’s fine, TT drafted to help AR. I say he drafted who he drafted and it just so happened to help AR instead of Dom. There was no intent one way or the other, just the outcome.
        “I hope to analyze what the Packers were thinking when they drafted each player.
        Overall Impressions:
        1.The retooling of the defense is basically complete: Teams set a tone with the players they draft and this year it was all about giving Aaron Rodgers more help.”

    2. My feeling is that Thompson had to alter his BPA approach slightly based on the fact that the defense was switching styles completely; I find it hard to believe that the Packers were simply just lucky to find a starting nose tackle and a starting outside linebacker (the two most important positions in a 3-4 defense)in the first round in the first year of the transition. Thompson did have to pick a little on need, he managed to do it without overpaying, which is perhaps the goal, but its the only time Thompson has ever traded up to grab someone in the first round. Take that in comparison to this year where he was more Thompson-esque; he sat and waited for the value to fall to him early and stockpiled and traded down for value later in the draft. My feeling is that if he had say traded up into the top of the second half to pick say Akeem Ayers or another pass rusher, then you could say that Thompson is still drafting for the transition.

  5. Kevin Greene said something I believe as to speed/athleticism versus heart/desire.
    A coach can and will get more from the guy with heart/desire over the other.

    IMO,when TT asked Greene and Capers for their draft requests,he gave them what they wanted.
    After all,wasn’t CM3’s heart/desire behind his success.We notice now the other a little more since being fine tuned by coaching.

    Reed and Ayers were high on the fan lists but,Reed seemed happy being a clone (presumed) and Ayers seemed lacadaisical.They had two of the ingredients,just not enough of the other two.

    Zombo and Walden have heart/desire and their played is being coached up.

    1. You have to find a good balance of both, there are plenty of players who have all the talent in the world but not the drive to do anything with it (Jamarcus Russell) and then there are tons of people who have the drive but don’t have the physical talent to make it. If you can managed to find someone who has both, like a Clay Matthews, then you have the chance for a truly special player.

  6. I didn’t like the Packers or Ted’s position from the get go as far as drafting behind good GM’s that play 3-4 defenses.(BAL,NYJ,NE,PIT) Thats like murderer’s row if you are trying to land a good defender, Ted did the best thing and didn’t try to force it. I too had guys circled on defense and sure enough they got snapped up right in front of GB. Wilkerson and Heyward round 1. Round two I was praying for Cobb. Round 3 I had 3 names written down half way thru the round, Kenrick Ellis NT, Curtis Brown CB, and Sam Acho OLB, both Ellis and Brown went right before GB’s pick. And even in round 4 I was thinking CB Cortez Allen and Pittsburgh took him right before GB’s slot. I’m pretty happy with the group he brought in especially for picking basically last every round.

  7. I’ve learned to put individuals aside with TT. The Packers usually have two or more individuals identified for the any specific pick. When TT wants and individual he will move his pick (i.e. Matthews). Finding players that have the skills and motivation to succeed in the lower rounds requires people who have a history of successful player evaluation skills. The Packers have them and I will trust their judgement on all the picks.

    I still wish they would have picked Moffit. I just can’t help myself.

  8. I was wondering if anybody got the scoop on Why Thompson couldn’t make a deal with the Bengals??? He must have been pretty worried that maybe Buffalo was going to grab Sherrod, they reported that Cincy was trying to get up to 32 and take Andy Dalton. One more reflection, when they took DJ Smith, the one name that kept running thru my head was London Fletcher, he even looks like him, I hope the packers are that lucky.

    1. i heard he wanted a third round pick and the bengals would only give a 4th round pick. i do not remember who it was, but some team traded up about 5 spots in the second round and gave up a 4th to do it. going by that logic, the bengals should have had to give up a third to move back into the first round. and looking at who was there to be picked in the 4th, i am glad we stayed where we were. getting another pick in the third probably would have made TT feel a little better about possibly missing out on sherrod.

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